PCB Creation

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#1
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Okay - I know there are plenty of threads about doing home PCB creation - I know how to do this, and I'm probably going to end up doing it, but I just don't understand something.

How on EARTH do commercial entities get REASONABLY priced PCBs? Is the only option for this in-house production? Everywhere I've looked wants at least $50 for a single sided, very simple 3x5 PCB. Is it just NOT POSSIBLE for a company to price an electronic device with a 3x5 PCB in a quantity of about 100 pcs under $100?

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I make my single-sided PCBs at home. They cost me much less than commercial boards and a typical board takes me about 30 minutes, excluding drilling.

Leon

Leon Heller
G1HSM

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www.olimex.com does single sided 6x4" boards (actually 160x100mm) at $26. (You can place several smaller designs on such a board and they will cut it up into the individual pieces for you, aka. de-panelizing.) Double-sided boards, same size, is $33. Certain limitations apply (max 500 drill holes, a limited set of drill sizes etc). Breaking them will add a few $ to the price. See web-site for details.

I have not used them myself (yet) but several 'freaks have, and I have only heard good reviews.

And this is in single quantity. I would expect that for larger quantities the price per board will be lower as there is an embedded setup fee/cost in that price. I wouldn't be surprised if the cost for eg. 1000 such boards would drop below $10. You'd have to ask for a quote to for the definitive answer, though.

I am fairly certain that there has been other board-houses discussed here that offers similar pricing.

"Some questions have no answers."[C Baird] "There comes a point where the spoon-feeding has to stop and the independent thinking has to start." [C Lawson] "There are always ways to disagree, without being disagreeable."[E Weddington]

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Leon needs just half an hour, I need a bit more. But for sure it's fun, and you can make them during the weekend f.i.

Johan's suggestion is a good one too, in case you like professional PCB's

I have good results with http://www.makepcb.com/ If you add your domicile in your profile, you will get better answers: Freaks are all over the world

Cheers

Nard

Dragon broken ? Or problems with the Parallel Port Programmer ? Scroll down on my projects-page http://www.aplomb.nl/TechStuff/TechStuff.html for tips

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If you want to see pricing for larger quantities check out www.pcbcart.com

As you can see the price/PCB falls off rapidly.

Edit: Get experimenting and make a couple of PCB's at home.. it is really not so hard and can be quite fun too. Double sided takes just a little more effort but is in no way impossible.

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Don't forget www.batchpcb.com for small runs of boards. They charge a $10 setup fee and $2.50 per square inch.

Tom

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You are up against the basic issues of scale. 100 boards is pretty small for most board houses. They would much rather work in the 1000's or more. So, their small-order pricing is not very attractive. Those that DO small orders tend to have upper limits where they are no longer attractive. PCBExpress is one that seems to transition from small scale to large relatively well. They get about $60 for two 2"x3" boards and the price (per board) drops rapidly from there. Once you get to 100's, it shifts to their standard fab process. But batchpcb that Tom mentioned is a lot better than that.

It just takes searching and asking (like you have) and you will turn up better choices than the one you mentioned.

Jim

PS: One major difference between BatchPCB and PCBExpress is on-shore vs off. BatchPCB takes you 10 to 19 days. The PCBExpress gets you boards in about 5 days. You want fast, so pay more. I am not promoting PCBExpress, just pointing out some of the issues that need to be considered.

Another issue is proprietary file formats, such as ExpressPCB. Once you have used their software, you are stuck with them or a relay-out. J.

Jim Wagner Oregon Research Electronics, Consulting Div. Tangent, OR, USA There are some answers that have no questions.

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Thank you for the replies, fellow freaks...

Guess it looks like I'll PROBABLY be doing a lot of in-house work with some muriatic acid and my laser printer. :mrgreen:

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As for the etching, I like ammonium persulfate but if you want an interesting alternative google "CuCl etching".

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Why not just do a dual layer board? The flexibility of having 2 layers to work with is immense, with dual layer you should not ever have to put jumper wire and everything looks much cleaner.

If you are in USA then the best place I have found is pcbfabexpress.com. Use one of their specials such as $10 per board for 2 layers with free solder mask and free stencil. The board is very high quality, they are very fast and customer service is very good. Just make sure that your board is within the specs of the special or else you pay through the nose in extra fees. Shipping is really expensive if you live outside the USA so that is why I would consider this a good deal for those in the USA.

My current fav is myropcb.com, good quality board, great service. For less than 5-10 units then they are not competitive but for more than 10 boards they become pretty competitive. For higher volume, ~50 or more, their prices are the cheapest around.

Regards,

Alan To

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Yeah, that's exactly what I'll be using.

To get started, you just need hydrochloric (muriatic) acid and some 3% H2O2 (drug-store grade hydrogen peroxide).

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I have started doing some testing.. I took the long route and started with corroding copper over hydrochloric acid and after that dissolving it. Took a while to get it to change colour from brown to green but it did eventually (just using air, to cheap to buy H2O2! :) ).

I have only etched 1 (small)board so far but it was very successful. I compared to another board etched with ammoniumpersulfate and compared to that it had minimal underetching. To be fair the Ammoniumpersulfate solution was beginning to be saturated.

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> To get started, you just need hydrochloric (muriatic) acid
> and some 3% H2O2 (drug-store grade hydrogen peroxide).

Well, HCl and H2O2 are known to cause unpredictable semi-explosions
when not monitored properly. Basically, it can only be used as a
throw-away mixture, but don't throw HCl (and the poisonous CuCl2)
into your environment...

Why not just use what generations have been using, FeCl3? Can be
used more than once, and other than causing brown (and later green)
stains when spilled, is fairly harmless. Best used at elevated
temperatures, but that's also true for (NH4)2S2O8.

Jörg Wunsch

Please don't send me PMs, use email if you want to approach me personally.
Please read the `General information...' article before.

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dl8dtl wrote:
Why not just use what generations have been using, FeCl3? Can be
used more than once, and other than causing brown (and later green)
stains when spilled, is fairly harmless. Best used at elevated
temperatures, but that's also true for (NH4)2S2O8.

FeCl3 is not harmless at all, trust me on that one. Might be a little less dangerous than CuCl, but either will happily blind you if you splash it in your eyes.

Part of the reason to use CuCl is that CAN be regenerated simply by bubbling the solution with air and/or adding H2O2 and a little more HCl.

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> FeCl3 is not harmless at all, trust me on that one. Might be a
> little less dangerous than CuCl

My remark was meant as a comparison to plain HCl+H2O2. Now that I read
the thread again, it isn't entirely clear though whether those I've been
replying to really meant just HCl or CuCl2 (where the acid is used to
refresh the solution).

Jörg Wunsch

Please don't send me PMs, use email if you want to approach me personally.
Please read the `General information...' article before.

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Ahh - okay.

The way it works is that you start out with HCl + H2O2. After etching a few boards (or dissolving Cu from another source directly), the Cu in the boards reacts with the HCl and H2O2, producing CuCl.

You're only working with HCl and H2O2 as an etchant for the first few boards - after that it's all CuCl, and you're just maintaining the CuCl by adding HCl and H2O2, and atmospheric oxygen when necessary.

I've read that one of the side effects is that there is a bit more fuming produced during etching, so that's something to consider.

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I know the person who makes PCBs through Express PCB but the project i have in my hand is in ORCAD and he is asking for package details which i don't know about.
Can anyone guide me to overcome this problem?/? :(

ATMEL--Heart Beat
Nothing Impossible

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I use Eagle lite and have made double sided boards with SMDs. My 1st design was for a sound activated lamp controller( DIP )that spanned 3 3" x 3" boards.I drilled almost 200 holes and said never again even if i have to surface mount the DIPs!!!

resources:

1)
smd soldering using toaster oven!!!

http://www.seattlerobotics.org/encoder/200006/oven_art.htm

2) Making pcb

build your own printed circuit board by al williams

1) Studio 4.18 build 716 (SP3)
2) WinAvr 20100110
3) PN, all on Doze XP... For Now
A) Avr Dragon ver. 1
B) Avr MKII ISP, 2009 model
C) MKII JTAGICE ver. 1

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Quote:
FeCl3 is not harmless at all, trust me on that one. Might be a little less dangerous than CuCl, but either will happily blind you if you splash it in your eyes.

It's also pretty awful on the environment if you dump it.

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Psychlow wrote:

I've read that one of the side effects is that there is a bit more fuming produced during etching, so that's something to consider.

Muriatic acid fumes are pretty harsh on your lungs. You definitely want to do it in a ventilated environment!